Top 40 Smash Taps: “Friends” and “Married Men”

These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.

I’ll bet it just eats Bette Midler up that she can’t claim membership in the exclusive EGOT club, those individuals who’ve won at least one of each of the major entertainment awards: Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. In the unlikely event she finds herself the recipient of an Academy Award in the near future — though she’s claimed two nominations in her career, it’s been over twenty years since the last one and nearly as long since anyone could suggest her as an Oscar race contender with a straight face — she’ll already have an asterisk by her name, as her Tony Award was a special, non-competitive trophy bestowed upon her (by Johnny Carson, no less) for her Clams on the Half Shell revue. I’m sure Midler wouldn’t brook any disparagement of her achievement, and maybe that’s just. Among those who are one award away from an EGOT, the Grammy is just as elusive as the Oscar, and Midler has plenty of those. She’s one of those all-around entertainers who’ve reached the point where she’s viewed as more celebrity than artist, which obscures the fact that she was a fairly prolific music-maker at the start of her career. By my count, she had a total of nine Top 40 singles, including two that just barely qualified for that honorific.

The first to peak at #40 was “Friends,” Midler’s third single overall. Her first two outings, both Top 40 hits, were covers of wellknown songs. While “Friends” was also technically a cover (it was recorded by Buzzy Linhart, on of the song’s co-writers), it was obscure enough that it would have hit most ears as original to Midler when it was released, in 1973.

After three straight Top 40 singles — all culled from her debut LP, The Divine Miss M — Midler went through something of a dry spell on the charts. She wouldn’t taste the Top 40 again until 1979, with the first single from her album Thighs and Whispers, a blatant attempt to cash in on the disco craze. “Married Men” is pretty standard for the era, although the lyrics about infidelity and the agony of being the other woman (“He promises to marry you/ As soon as his divorce comes through”) are on the nose enough to make them seem a little weird connected to frothy, dance floor fare. In keeping with Midler’s propensity for recycling, the song was a U.K. hit that same year for Bonnie Tyler, who recorded it for the film The World is Full of Married Men.

Midler would have greater success a year later, with songs from the soundtrack to her starring film debut, The Rose. Amazingly the title song was the second single from the album, the label opting to play to Midler’s reputation as an ace interpreter of familiar songs by leading with a cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman.” While that did make it into the Top 40, “The Rose” was the real winner, easily becoming Midler’s biggest hit to date and her first single to go gold. Of course, it would be eclipsed nearly a decade later by another soundtrack song: a cover of a Gary Morris country hit that appeared in the desperately crummy film Beaches. That track became Midler’s first and only single to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
“Come See” by Major Lance
“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
“Who Do You Think You’re Foolin'” by Donna Summer
“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small
“Live My Life” by Boy George
“Lessons Learned” by Tracy Lawrence
“So Close” by Diana Ross
“Six Feet Deep” by the Geto Boys
“You Thrill Me” by Exile
“What Now” by Gene Chandler
“Put It in a Magazine” by Sonny Charles
“Got a Love for You” by Jomanda
“Stone Cold” by Rainbow
“People in Love” by 10cc
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” by the Four Tops
“Thinkin’ Problem” by David Ball
“You Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine” and “Trying to Make a Fool of Me” by the Delfonics
“The Riddle (You and I)” by Five for Fighting
“I Can’t Wait” by Sleepy Brown
“Nature Boy” by Bobby Darin
“Give It to Me Baby” and “Cold Blooded” by Rick James
“Who’s Sorry Now?” by Marie Osmond
“A Love So Fine” by the Chiffons
“Funky Y-2-C” by the Puppies
“Brand New Girlfriend” by Steve Holy
“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by Bonnie Pointer
“Mr. Loverman” by Shabba Ranks
“I’ve Never Found a Girl” by Eddie Floyd
“Plastic Man” and “Happy People” by the Temptations
“Okay” by Nivea
“Go On” by George Strait
“Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road
“Birthday Party” by the Pixies Three
“Livin’ in the Life” by the Isley Brothers
“Kissing You” by Keith Washington
“The End of Our Road” by Marvin Gaye
“Ticks” and “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley
“Nobody But You Babe” by Clarence Reid
“Like a Sunday in Salem” by Gene Cotton
“I’m Going to Let My Heart Do the Walking” by the Supremes
“Call Me Lightning” by the Who
“Ain’t It True” by Andy Williams
“Lazy Elsie Molly” and “Let’s Do the Freddie” by Chubby Checker
“Second Fiddle” by Kay Starr
“1999” by Prince
“I’ll Try Anything” by Dusty Springfield
“Oh Happy Day” by Glen Campbell
“I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After

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